Day 1 of the shared experiences of the film and media team working to document the stories of the people being transformed in the community of Pignon by the work of MH4H. Josh McCausland and John Essary are filming and creating a documentary while Rob van Beek, MH4H Marketing Manager, is helping to produce the stories.

Written by Rob van Beek
Photo contibutions by John Essary, Josh McCausland and Rob van Beek

Arriving in Haiti is an experience you can’t prepare for. Flying in from Miami you see the urban sprawl that is Port-Au-Prince. Houses made of tin next to hotels and beaches. And once through the chaos of baggage claim, you are welcomed by a wave of heat and an over-crowded outdoor arrival area.

Flying over the houses of Port-Au-Prince

Fortunately for us we find Woody and his big warm smile. He had been waiting for us since 10am. We got out at 1:30pm. But Woody doesn’t care. His smile shows how happy he is to see us.

After big hugs and handshakes from Woody, we haul our luggage through the hot carpark to our bus; a beat-up van but fairly typical by Haitian standards. They load the luggage, we get in and we start our 4 hour trip to Pignon. The sights, smells and people of Port-Au-Prince are hard to take in all at once. Garbage litters the streets as cars, bikes and people move everywhere. People living in harsh realities and with daily struggles.

But these people are why we are here.

A typical roadside market. Trash is a common sight in Port-Au-Prince The streets of Port-Au-Prince People riding a local Tap Tap. These taxis are everywhere.

Our eye-opening trip takes us out of Port-Au-Prince and into the dramatic Haitian landscape; passing through a paradise contrasted by poverty and economic stagnation. Taking winding mountain roads, we pass Haitians sitting in groups avoiding the heat of the day. Kids playing in fields and people walking along the roads. Our driver honks loudly and constantly, a warning to people that he won’t stop. There’s a running joke in Haiti: ‘If your brakes stop working, get a louder horn.’

A Haitian walk from their home for water

A Haitian walks from their home for water

Teens playing soccer in a field by the road

Woody is flagged down by some locals. They ask if we can take their grandkids up to their mothers house which is on the way. He doesn’t know them but without hesitation, Woody helps them in. He is always ready to help.

A girl gets in the van with us

Three hours in and we are warned that the road is going to get worse. It does. Pot holes and rocks are a constant feature of the unpaved dirt roads. Road work has not made it out that far.

Soon we arrive in Pignon and start to see the smiling faces of the locals. Cactus fences mark the edges of fields and people’s homes and the smaller winding roads between each are just begging to be explored.

A path leading between the cactus fences

We finally end our bus ride at the dormitory that we will be staying. We are excited to see Christi, Craig and Heidi and ready for food and showers. We greet one another and get acquainted over dinner. Once diner is done we get right into planning for the next week. We have a full schedule and so many stories to capture. This, on top of all the regular work that needs to be done.

Around the table at the dorm

After 2 hours of discussion and planning, we finally get a chance to shower and unwind from our day.

As the lights go out and the noises of the Haitian night fill our rooms, we wonder what the week will bring. The sounds of the chickens and voodoo drums in the dark of the night hint at the hidden layers in this community.

But whatever the next day will bring, we know God will be with us; and we are here not just to share the Haitians stories, but to share God’s story for them.